Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL): Interpretation of multiple score reports for ESL placement
Kateryna Kokhan & Chih-Kai (Cary) Lin, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Volume 3, Issue 1, 2014
Abstract: The vast majority of U.S. universities nowadays accept TOEFL iBT scores for admission and placement into ESL classes. A significant number of candidates choose to repeat the test hoping to get higher results. Due to the significant increase in the number of international students, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) is currently seeking to find the most cost-effective ESL placement policy which would regulate the ESL placement of TOEFL repeaters. Since there is little published research examining students’ multiple TOEFL iBT score reports, and there are no guidelines for the interpretation of multiple scores provided by the test publisher, this paper attempts to address the issue of interpretation and use of TOEFL iBT repeaters’ scores for making ESL placement decisions in the context of UIUC. The main research question considered in our study was: Which TOEFL iBT scores (official highest, most recent, average or self-reported scores) are the best predictors of ESL placement? The findings indicate that the self-reported and the highest TOEFL iBT scores have the strongest association with the ESL placement results. The self-reported and the highest scores also demonstrate the highest classification efficiency in predicting ESL placement of TOEFL iBT repeaters. The results and implications of the study are discussed.
Keywords: test repeaters, ESL placement, TOEFL, practicality, cost-efficiency